Archive for the 'indie games' Category

Trilby: The Art of Theft – Heist 2

This is really quite an addictive game.

I made a Trilby rank video of the second mission to go with my first one. I’ll probably make a few more too. Be warned that I haven’t cut out the cutscene, so consider everything from here on to be a spoiler!


Heist 2: 56 Seconds, $900 in loot, no tasers or alarms.

After finishing the game with an “A” rank, I discovered that you get a new suit which makes you practically invisible. I also discovered that you can hug the walls to avoid the vertical lasers. So the game’s suddenly got a whole lot easier for me πŸ™‚

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Trilby: The Art of Theft – Heist 1

aot

I just posted a big review of Yahtzee’s new game Trilby: The Art of Theft over at TIGSource. It basically says that it’s brilliant, that all games should be like it, etcetera, etcetera. I also posted an annoucement a few days ago at Indygamer Blogspot when I first came across it. It’s the first game I’ve come across while writing for TIGSource that I liked enough to cross post, heh. It’s really good – if you’re into indie games at all you should check it out – I’m adding it to my favourites list.

I made a video to demonstrate it, since it’s hard to get the atmosphere of this one across in screenshots.


Heist 1: 1 minute and 32 seconds, $635 in loot, no tasers or alarms.

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Finally, a Cave Story post

Cave Story is one of those special games that turns me into a blathering fanboy. I’ve got so much respect for the game and its creator that I can’t even articulate my admiration properly – save to say that I think it’s one of the best games ever made; a five year labour of love by a talented, modest, creative genius, released for free and quietly spread by word of mouth. In a hundred years time when this industry has changed into something unrecognisable, people will still be talking about it. (hey, I did warn you about the blathering fanboy thing…)

If you feel the same way, then you’ll love this: Apparently Cave Story had more than one iteration before its final release, one of which was was nearly finished. In the last couple of days, Pixel has put together a collection of screenshots and some concept art from an earlier build!

Here are a few of my favourites:

You can find the zip file containing all the images over at the Doukutsu Monogatari livejournal community. Derek’s also put up a page at TIGSource with all the images, which you can find linked to from Brandon’s post here.

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Yet another project

A proper update is coming! I haven’t been progressing as fast as I’d hoped, and I want to get my engine to a certain point before I say anymore about this little platformer I’m working on.

In the meantime, here’s some “concept art” from another project I’m thinking about getting involved with on the side:

What’d’ya think? πŸ˜€ Working title for now is simply Indie Brawl. Check out this thread I posted about it over at TIGSource!

[edit: Higgens posted some more concept art in that thread to go with Pacian’s!]

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Upcoming indie games

See those catagories on the side? I added a new one πŸ™‚ I figured since I talk about the “indie games” topic so much, it’s about time I stopped lumping them in as interludes and owned up to the fact that I’m posting a lot more to the blog these days than just progress reports.

I play a huge number of indie games, but I always seems to have a backlog of stuff to check out. It’s absolutely incredible just how much there is – even at the rate I’m playing these games, there are still huge areas of the scene I know very little about! I’ve hardly looked at the AGS scene, or the Shareware scene, or the Bullet Hell SHMUP scene, or the RPG Maker scene, or the Flash scene, or the Interactive Fiction scene, or… man, I could go on for a while here. Just off the top of my head, I’ve still to play “5 Days a Stranger” and Yahtzee’s other games, “La Mulana”, “Fate by Numbers”, “Darkside Adventures”, “Fedora Spade”, “Last Scenario”, “Wilfred, the Hero”, any of Emily Short’s stuff apart from Galatea…

…again, I could go on for a while here. πŸ™

On top of that, there are loads of games coming up that I’m really looking forward to! These in particular have got me pretty excited:

AkuchizokuCactus

Akuchizoku is an upcoming semi-professional game by the fantastically prolific Cactus, who I mentioned here just the other day with his B-Game entry Mondo Medicals. He also created Clean Asia (which is still one of my favourite indie games), as well as about sixty thousand other games.

I wasn’t sure about this one when I first saw the screenshots – but it looks absolutely glorious in motion. Retro, stylish and weird, but in his usual good way. Check out the video above, and see for yourself.

World of Goo2D Boy (Kyle Gabler and Ron Carmel)

Remember the experimental gameplay project? If so, you’ve probably played Tower of Goo, Kyle Gabler’s most popular submission (he also made Attack of the Killer Swarm, Darwin Hill, The Crowd, and Gravity Head – a pretty fantastic track record, all told).

There were a lot of cool mini-games created as part of that project, but Kyle’s stuff really stood out, with its quirky style and character. This guy really knows what’s he doing, so I’m looking forward to seeing what this is like. Even though, to be honest, this isn’t the sorta thing I’d usually be interested in, heh.

(He’s being assisted by Ron Carmel, but unfortunately I’m not familiar with his stuff. Apparently he worked for EA.)

AquariaBit-Blot (Alec Holowka & Derek Yu)

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this release since it won the Seamus McNally grand price at the IGF back in March. Apparently it’s basically finished, but the developers have held back the release to further test it and give it a bit of polish. Always a good sign πŸ™‚

Alec just recently posted this gameplay video to the Bit-Blot blog, which shows about seven minutes of gameplay, and a boss encounter.

The UndersideInsignificant Studios (Arthur Lee)

I don’t know if we’ll ever see a finished version of The Underside, but there’s a very good demo available – check it out here. According to the site, it’s still being worked on – and recently, too. This is the only game in this list I’ve actually played, so I can sound more convincing when I say that this is going to be pretty good πŸ™‚

Upon releasing the first screenshots and gameplay videos, the poor game (and developer) took a lot of slack from a certain knuckleheaded subset of Cave Story fans. Sheesh. Some people, eh?

Anyway, I can’t wait to play this one! πŸ™‚

BraidJonathan Blow

There’s no video “as such” (aside from a little bit in a lecture here), but Graham Goring played a demo of it, and did a neat preview of it for the arsecast.

I read Jonathan Blow’s blog from time to time, and I really like his whole philosophy on game design. From everything I’ve seen and everything I’ve heard about this game, I don’t doubt that he’s on to something with this.

And that’s that… Hey, reader – you know all these blog posts are pure procrastination, right? I think I’m going to go to the library instead tomorrow and try to get some work done before I head to Amsterdam for the rest of the week.

Anyway, I’m done rambling for the day πŸ˜€

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My Picks

TIGSource’s B-Game’s contest is now at an end, and by my count, 27 people have submitted entries to it. This doesn’t include games that have been privately submitted to the mods over there, but I suspect we’ve seen the bulk of them.

The overall standard is phenomenal. Practically everyone got a good grasp on the idea behind the contest and as a result, everything submitted is worth playing – be it for a cool gameplay mechanic or just a brilliant concept.

There are a few exceptional entries, though. I haven’t decided on the best one, but my favourites are these three:


Mondo Medicals – Cactus

The concept: Mondo Medicals needs your help to research a cure for cancer: to do this, you first need to be tested. The game faces you with a number of counter-intuitive first person maze puzzles, and on completion of each you’re treated to bizarre cutscenes that reveal more about what’s going on.

What’s good? The “twilight zone” interpretation of the B-Games concept is the most underexplored take on the contest, and none of the other participants handle it as well as Cactus does. This game is seriously creepy, but in a good way. It’s by far the most stylish game entered.

What’s not so good? The puzzles are fun and the game plays well, but as it goes on, it’s just much too difficult. So far I’ve haven’t been able to beat the “count to 15” stage (even though I’ve counted to 14!), and I’m half thinking about resorting to the walkthrough. On top of this, some levels drag on a bit too long.

My evaluation: One of the best entries to the contest. Had Cactus worked a little more on the puzzles and shortened some of the repetitive levels, it would probably stand out as the clear winner.


The 100-in-1 Klik & Play Pirate Kart – Team Glorious Trainwrecks Dot Com
(Alan Gordon, dessgeega, Develop CO, Eudaimon, Haze Rever, J. “Botagel” Reed, Jeremy “SpindleyQ” Penner, Kirk “kirkjerk.com” Israel, Laco, Matthew “Shapermc” Williamson, MR ISAAC, PizzaTime!, Preston Whited, Quaggy!, Raphael Freight-Train Shinners, Seppel, six, and Swimmy)

The concept: Anybody could have taken a month and thrown together a bad Klik & Play game and called it an entry to this contest. Forming a team of 17 and making a hundred of them in one weekend, on the other hand… that’s just too awesome to put into words πŸ™‚

What’s good? All the authors bring something different to the table – Alan Gordon’s black and white games are probably the best; funny and mostly playable in their own right (My favourite of his was “Keys Keys Keys”). There are good and bad in here, but no game is really “Bad”, so to speak.

You might not feel like playing all of them, but you should probably give these a shot, at least:
Alan Gordon – Duelling Sandwiches, Keys Keys Keys
dessgeega – here comes the judge
Eudaimon – Kill Yourself, Slide Puzzle Insanity: Special Edition
Haze Rever – Hungry Hedgehogs MMORPG
Jeremy “SpindleyQ” Penner – Don’t Stop Believing, Pick up the phone and die (pictured), Piano Tutor
Matthew “Shapermc” Williamson – Sad old man
Raphael Freight-Train Shinners – Emotional Rollercoaster
six – Shakespeare Shakespeare Revolution
Swimmy – Don’t hit the spikes, This game stars my penis

… hell, you should just try them all πŸ˜€ I was in stitches the whole time!

What’s not so good? It kinda stretches the “amateurish” interpretation of the B-Games concept to the max. It’s good, but then it can only be so good, if you know what I mean.

My evaluation: Definitely one of the highlights of the contest. I’m totally amazed at the scope of the games on offer – 100 games of any standard is a huge undertaking, but believe it or not, there are very few repeats, even though that was basically their original intention. Incredible!


Poizoned Mind – Pacian

The concept: You’ve been poisoned. Slow acting, but very deadly, according to Death, who accompanies you at the monorail station where the game begins. Before stepping into the afterlife, Death allows you to take one last look around Zone Five, the run down city where the game takes place.

What’s good? Everything, actually. It’s superbly well written, and consequently, lots of fun to explore. Even the music (various Beethoven Midi files which seem to have been at least partially chosen as a joke) suits the game really well. The author claims that the game has only one ending – and it does, I suppose – but there are many interesting and funny ways to get there. The game’s eight fleshed out characters joke, purr, and wax philiosophical about issues as diverse as death, Elvis’s mothership, and gonzo burgers.

What’s not so good? I’m having trouble seeing how the game interprets the theme of the contest. The only thing that seems to qualify is what the author calls “Unparalleled lyneWrap™ technology”, which results in practically every sentence incorrectly wrapping at the edge of the screen. It adds an air of amateurishness to the game that I guess the author felt it needed.

This is minor nitpicking, though. The game is excellent!

My evaluation: I don’t see a lot of people talking about this one on the forums, and it’s a shame, because it’s probably my personal favourite. I hope it isn’t overlooked when it comes to the voting.

The really amazing thing is that the author claims it’s his first game. In that case, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with when he starts on something serious! πŸ™‚

These three are my favourites, but they’re not the only good games that have been submitted : here are a few more highlights that are worth looking at:


Space Barnacle – Golds

An excellent little platform shooter set in space. Again, I’m not quite sure how the author was interpreting “B-Game”, but he’s created something really good nevertheless.


Cottage… OF DOOM! – Haowan

Another very strong contender – Cottage of Doom is a shooter which seems to be roughly based on “Night of the Living Dead”. The niftiest thing about it is that you don’t just have to run out in the middle of a group of enemies and start shooting; to survive, you need to barricade the doors and windows and pick them off in small groups. It needs a little polish, but I had a lot of fun with it.


Gunlimb – Radnom

Play a torso, on a mission to avenge his limbs. Encapsulates everything that’s great about this contest πŸ˜€


Hickbilly Bride – Can-O-Spam

GOT SUM PRETTY DCENT LEVL DESIGN IN HERE


WeiÁŸer Punkt in der SchwarzlÁ¼cke – Movius

Here’s something a bit different: A parody of arthouse gaming! Complete with director’s commentary, trailers for upcoming releases, a gallery and a lengthy credit sequence. Wish I’d thought of it πŸ™‚

This is only the start of it – I’ve barely scratched the surface! Check out the rest here: TIGSource B-Games contest forum

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Knytt Stories

If you read the various indie gaming blogs, I’m sure you’ve heard the news already: “Within a Deep Forest” creator Nifflas has finally released his long awaited atmosphere-em-up Knytt Stories.

The poor game’s had to endure a hell of a lot of hype – in part, just from being the sequel to the excellent Knytt – but mostly from all the interviews, the previews, the hundreds of people who seem to have got their hands on the pre-release version – all of which seem to have come back ecstatic about new game.

It wouldn’t be easy for any game to live up to all that. And yet, it does. Knytt Stories is fantastic.

First of all, Knytt Stories is not just a game. It is nine games – and no doubt in a few weeks, it’ll be dozens more. Rather than just make a straight sequel, Nifflas has instead opted to make an engine, a good level editor, and a couple of small and very distinct mini-levels. The release pack contains one level, and there are eight more on his site (which includes four “third party” levels).

All the levels are good, but my favourite has to be “An underwater adventure”, which returns to the last level from “Within a deep forest” and is the most game like of the lot.

Wanna see it in action? Tim’s put up a video of the “Strange Dream” level on youtube:

This is NotKnytt. It’s way better. In fact, it’s so good, I’m giving it a place on that all exclusive list πŸ™‚

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Nikujin

I’ve been playing a neat little action game lately called Nikujin. The jist of it seems to be that you’re a naked ninja who’s been hired to break into a castle and take out some old guy, all the while dealing with all the other naked ninjas on the way in.

You can find out more about it here with Xander’s excellent review for TIGSource.

Anyway, I’m bringing this up because, as it turns out, it’s an awesome skill game. And I get very competitive about these things. Here’s my speed run at the practice level. (It’s my first youtube video!)

Apparently I’ve already been beaten… πŸ˜₯

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Alex’s Adventure

Here’s a great game I found recently on Tim W’s Indygamer Blogspot. It’s a simple platformer called Alex’s Adventure.

Although I’m a pretty critical guy, there are basically two ways games tend to win me over. The first way is to have an excellent story, lovable characters and a quirky sense of humour. That’s unfortunately pretty rare in indie-gaming.

The second way is simply to exude style and atmosphere. Like Alex’s Adventure does. It’s only about an hour long, but it’s probably the best game I’ve played in months.

In fact, I think I’ll add it to my Awesome Games list. It’s just that good.

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Interlude: Autofire 2k7 Contest

I don’t ordinarily play shoot-em-ups at all, but I’ve really enjoyed playing the entries for the Autofire 2K7 Contest over at shmup-dev.com. The results have just been announced, and the overall quality is awesome.

The wining game is Clean Asia, and rightly so too. I’ve been playing this perfectly formed work of genius compulsively since I first found it – it’s way out in front as the best game of 2007 so far. Actually, I can’t think of anything that was released last year that even comes close to this.

I just finished it last night, finally, so I’m feeling pretty chuffed with myself πŸ™‚

Right then. Back to the game.

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